Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Sunday in Africa

Sunday morning had arrived. The night before, barking dogs outside woke me up at 2:30am... I distinctly remember looking across the dark room and asking Heather, "Why are the dogs barking?" 

"I don't know," she told me.

In my mind, it meant one of two things: there was someone who had tried to break into our house, or there was a large animal outside that would soon eat us all alive.

Needless to say, my imagination is often more active in the middle of the night.

I wasn't scared, though, just tired. And I soon fell back asleep. 

A little before 7am, I again awoke to a hair dryer in our room. Unfortunately, the whole "jet lag" thing had affected most everyone else more than it had me, and a lot of girls were waking up between 5-7 am. I grudgingly rolled out of bed, but after moving around a little I was ready to go. 

We left for church around 8:30 am. The church we attended was nearby and it was called "United Church of Zambia." As we pulled up and exited the vehicle, a lot of the teachers/staff from Lifesong were already there to greet us with big, warm hugs. In Africa, you hug across each shoulder. I was astounded by how welcoming and friendly everyone was, although by the end of the week, I learned that is just part of their wonderful culture. 

I walked a few more steps and tears almost flooded my eyes. In my ears was the most beautiful singing, and off to my right was a huge gathering of little children. All of them were standing there quietly, looking at us. It was then that David walked up to me and whispered in my ear, "If your mom had come on this trip, there is no way she would have gone home empty-handed."

Amen to that. My mom had considered coming on this trip right at first, but then decided not to come. All week long, I kept thinking that perhaps it was a blessing in disguise; she might have come home with several children otherwise. My mom has a huge heart for kids, and would have fallen in love with every single one. Our family did foster care for a number of years when I was in High School for babies, and to this day, we are still connected with a lot of special kids who have since been adopted and have grown up in loving families. These kids who have been no exception, and there is no doubt that my mom would have found a way to pack some into her suitcase.

We walked into the church, which was a large room full of several rows of benches and leftover, brightly colored Christmas / New Year's decorations. There was a Christmas-tree like figure at the front with blinking, colorful lights, and a piano player on a keyboard on the left in the front. A group of Africans were up front, singing and clapping their hands. It took me a minute to take it all in. Keep in mind that in Zambia, most buildings have no glass in their windows, it's open air- and so the breeze you get is whatever outside air flows in. It wasn't too hot that day, luckily, but I'm just trying to paint the picture of how different everything is. We don't sit on padded benches with carpet underneath our feet, and children don't have a bag of toys for church. In fact, one thing I noted is that a lot of the kids sat perfectly still throughout the entire (2 1/2 hour long) service without making one sound. They seem to know how to be content with very little from a very early age.

Anyway, it felt more like a program than a church service. Multiple groups got up and performed songs, and again I say, it is like nothing I have ever heard before. It was beautiful. LOUD, and beautiful. Africans know how to sing, and they aren't afraid of making a joyful noise to the Lord. They also know how to move!

There was a guest speaker, who was actually a woman, who got up and preached, read from the Bible, and gave the message. It was in half English, half Bemba... often translated. I really, really enjoyed it. 

As I said, the total sitting time there was over 2 hours. It was a combined service, so it was a bit longer. I loved every minute of it.

After church, we were invited next door in the backyard for tea, juice, and cookies. We stood around with some of the staff, and one of the little boys who attends Lifesong, Juniper, was there. It was really nice.

From there, we left church and headed over to Lifesong school for a tour by John Mumba and Dru. We walked around and became acquainted with the place we would be all week long with the kids, holding VBS. We went through the classrooms, into John's office, the kitchen, and just looked around. It was nice being able to see it in advance to know what to expect.

Then we headed into town to the Curio Market. It was raining at this point, so we all piled into this tent where several interesting items were being sold. Had it not been raining, I would have loved to have walked around to other areas, as the place was huge, but we all stayed in this one spot. Jewelry, coasters, figurines, purses, candle stick holders, pots, bowls, etc... there were many things to go through. Each booth had an African standing by who, when they would see even a flickering of interest on your face, would grab your arm, drag you over to the nearest piece of merchandise, and tell you that you just had to have it. 

"I will give you a special deal, since you are my first buyer today," is what about every single one of them told me. I stopped believing it after being told it for the 5th time.

"You have to have this," another would say, holding up a purse. "White women LOVE these!"

I walked out of there with an awesome reversible purse made out of some great African fabric, a necklace with a cross on it, and a blue vase with animals that says, "The Zambia." All this for 20 American dollars... however, we paid them in kwacha, so I have no idea how much that equates to, but in US standards, I felt like it was a pretty good deal.

Others along became a bit frazzled with the whole process; you have to be comfortable saying "no," or learn the art of sneaking away if you truly aren't interested, or else they'll keep you there all day and convince you to buy everything. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the process and would go back again by myself if ever given the chance.

We ate dinner in town at a place that had a wide variety of food. I was happy to see "American" choices on the menu, and promptly ordered a hamburger and fries, which sounded SO good to me. Call me adventurous, I know. Anyway, I would soon learn that hamburgers in Africa taste more like meat loaf. The fries and coke were good, though, and I tried to get through as much of it as I could. 

After supper, we went back to the guest house and just relaxed. The group for Monday went over their skit for VBS, and a lot of people played soccer outside with some of the other Africans on the property. I took pictures. We played games inside, then a lot of people were off to bed early.

The synopsis of Sunday ended up being a lot longer than I planned, so I'm going to end here for now. I'll come back soon with my review of Day 1 & 2 of VBS at Lifesong... see you soon, and love you all!


1 comment:

Jane said...

Nice job! We are already talking here about whether or not Tyler's taste for church music will change by the time he gets home :-). I had a similar experience when we had some Africans in our home from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mom couldn't speak any English, but I sure felt the Spirit when she sang and prayed. We continue to enjoy looking at your pictures on FB.